June 12, 2006 Subject:
Nice little bit of animation
The Fleischer Superman cartoons were justly renowned for their high quality of animation. The stories were rather simple: Bad guy threatens evil (usually with Lois Lane in danger) and Superman saves the day. This is nothing different, but, as usual, the execution is first-rate.
By the standards of the times, the film wasn't racist at all, of course, and there's little actual racism by today's standards. Spies are trying to steal the plane, but there's no ridicule and they are not racial charactures. They are spies.
April 9, 2006 Subject:
Being that this was created in the U.S during the second world war, it's not surprising that a Japanese fellow would be cast as a bad guy. This was the enemy of democracy and freedom and that is Supe's main gig. I thought the portrayal of the enemy agent was quite subdued and done with the proper respect for such a hated and dreaded foe. They did after all let him hijack the plane and it took a Super-Man to foil his plans!
I am always impressed with the stylized artwork and the detail of these old cartoons(note the windows of the elevator and the sheet metal of the aircraft. It's too bad they didn't spend a little more time on the perspective and kinetics of the aircraft while flying. It seemed too much like a cut and paste job. I find the story lines a bit too simple but they were simpler times. If it wasn't for Lois, always the modern woman, doing the opposite of what she's told there would be no reason for Superman to care. The things a guy will do to get a date...
Reviewer:Wilford B. Wolf
March 7, 2005 Subject:
Faster than a speeding locomotive
"Japoteurs" is a difficult animated short to review. On the one hand, the technical skill demonstrated by the animators is nothing short of astounding. The transition between the Japanese agent burning a hole in the newspaper and the hanger that houses the giant bomber is truly a classic.
Yet, there is a combination of blanant racism, hightened and openly sanctioned by the war, and moments of "plot convinence playhouse." The Japanese "agent" is nearly silent, thus we never find out exactly who and where he comes from. His exaggerated features and style of speech are sadly typical of the portrayal of all Asians in the 1930s and 1940s. Other than taking the plane to Tokyo and an implied hate of liberty, the motivations are at best unclear.
Then there are the actions of Clark Kent and Lois Lane. I found it bizarre that the military would not only allowing the press to view their newest plane, especially during a time of war, but allow a civilian to sit around playing with the gun turret, especially since the plane is about to go on a test flight fully loaded. Of course, there is also actions of Lois Lane, convinently hiding in a locker just before takeoff.
Thus, fascinating animation is combined with outdated plotting and stereotypes.
January 4, 2005 Subject:
Superman vs The Bad Guys
World War II propagandist cartoon with Superman facing an evil Japanese enemy.
Some particularly cool cinematic devices used in this short cartoon.